- 'It is about ways of seeing':globalisation, nation-building, nationalism, inequality, and contesting identities
Fortuitously, and probably reflecting a shared concern with important issues in contemporary South Africa, the journal received four contributions of presentations at conferences or workshops (those by Freund, Stiebel, Guy, and Habib, below). We decided that we should include all four in a Debate section, inviting responses from readers of Transformation. These contributions have been left in their original form, tentative and provocative at the same time - asking for responses, in other words.
The unifying principle of many evaluative contributions to South Africa in 2004 is, for obvious reasons, 'ten years of democracy' (it also features in both the articles in this issue, by Hart and Sitas, and by Meth). Habib, most directly, takes 'ten years of democracy' as his starting point, but the other authors also relate what they say to social, economic and political trends. All four contributions, furthermore, deal with social identity, especially that of a 'South African' (and 'African') identity and the various forms which seem to predominate. In their contributions they relate the difficulties of deliberate identity formation projects since 1994 to different contextual concerns - Freund to globalisation, class (and then especially in the forms of poverty and inequality, serving as a further link to the two articles in this issue) and 'race'; Guy to globalisation and nationalism; Stiebel to mapping and the historical and spatial perceptions of the continent. Habib addresses the concern with social cohesion indirectly. He argues that the dangers of an increasingly economically divided society will effectively be addressed (only) when a large degree of 'substantive uncertainty' is introduced into the democratic political system: to increase the degree of accountability of the state to the poor and otherwise politically weak [End Page 39]
There is much to challenge opinions in each debate piece. We invite short responses to what we have published below. Contributions will not be refereed, other than by the editorial board of Transformation, allowing for quicker publication. [End Page 40]